'We are shocked' – funding cut to Pasifika training provider forces it to close down

One of New Zealand's biggest tertiary providers for Pacific people is to shut its doors after having all its funding cut.

Around 20,000 students have graduated from Best Pacific Institute of Education over 30 years – but today 150 campus staff were told the bad news.

In 2014 the Tertiary Education Commission funded the institute $15.5 million but this dropped to $8.7 million this year – mostly due to falling enrollments.

Several years ago the roll numbered well over 3000 – but it's dropped to 1200 this year.

The chief executive of the Tertiary Education Commission says Best Pacific has a high fixed cost structure so low roll levels means the business structure is not viable.

"Best has been a strong contributor to the market over the last 25 years so we have been working extensively with them to see if we can fund them going forward but that just isn't possible".

Best Pacific chief executive Rachel Skudder says they are shocked, as like other tertiary providers it's had a couple of challenging years, but things had started to turn around for them this year.

She said in three decades Best Pacific Institute of Education has made a difference to people's lives, as many had never thought they could achieve a qualification.

"You only have to come to one of our graduations to see the numbers of students who are the first in their family to cross the stage with a tertiary qualification," she says.

Ms Skudder says the priority is to work with NZQA and The Tertiary Education Commission to make sure that the current students, some of them halfway through specialised courses, will have somewhere to go next year and that their coursework will be recognised.

Staff at Best Pacific Institute of Education were told today that they are out of a job, and students are also in limbo. Source: 1 NEWS